The Big Tymers
The Big Tymers
The Big Tymers is comprised of the rappers Mannie Fresh and Brian “Baby” Williams. The pair, along with Williams’s brother Ronald “Sugar Slim” Williams, are cofounders of the record label Cash Money Records, based in New Orleans. After helping rappers like the quadruple-platinum-selling Juvenile get their start, Fresh and Williams gave themselves a leg up with their debut release, How You Luv That?’The album led to a multimillion dollar contract with Universal Records that helped them to become of the hottest rap acts in the United States.
Mannie Fresh and Brian Williams met in 1992 and started Cash Money Records soon afterward. Ronald “Sugar Slim” Williams, Brian Williams’s brother, was a partner in the venture. Fresh acted as the label’s in-house producer, leaving the business end of the label to the Williams brothers. Baby Williams also contributed his own rhymes to the mix on many of the label’s recordings. Fresh, as producer, plays the studio’s mixers like musical instruments to build, layer upon layer, all of the tracks Cash Money releases.
Audiences in Cash Money’s home region expanded the label’s popularity throughout the Southern states and from there, to the rest of the United States. Before the end of the 1990s, Cash Money Records became one of the nation’s most successful independent rap labels, and it helped popularize Southern hip-hop on the national rap scene.
Meanwhile, Fresh and Baby Williams began to collaborate on their own raps in the Cash Money studios, recording as the Big Tymers. The name, Fresh has explained, symbolizes their desire to take their new venture to its limit, to reach the big time. Their recording debut was on the 1997 Cash Money release of rapper B.G.’s album It’s All on U, Vol. 2. Fresh and Williams liked this effort so much that they decided to cut their own album. The duo released their debut album, How You Luv That?, on Cash Money Records in 1998. The album featured as performers most of the artists that Cash Money produced at the time (in addition to Fresh and Williams), including Lil’ Wayne, B.G., Juvenile, Turk, T.Q., Boo and Gotti, and others.
Right out of the gate, How You Luv That? sold 100,000 copies, a remarkable achievement considering that Cash Money had very little to spend on promoting the album. True to the spirit of the record label, How You Luv That? is a celebration of money, sex, and big-ticket luxuries, featuring raps about strip clubs, high-end cars, champagne baths, and platinum dental work. As in Cash Money’s other releases, the Big Tymers’ debut album features Fresh’s smooth production work, and it became a strong seller in the South and the Midwest.
In a distribution agreement with Universal Records in 1999, the album reached a wider audience when it was reissued as How You Luv That?, Volume 2. The new release included many of the tracks of the original in addition to nine brand new songs. The deal with Universal, worth $30 million, helped bring unit sales of Cash Money’s releases past the seven million mark by 2000, and brought extensive air play for Cash Money’s artists. How You Luv That?, Vol. 2 hit the number one spot on Billboard’s Heatseekers album chart, which tracks new and emerging recording artists, and went gold.
The Big Tymers’second album, I Got That Work, was released in 2000 under the Universal agreement. Like all of Cash Money’s previous efforts, I Got That Work benefited from Fresh’s sound effects and samples. Backed by the tremendous distribution and promotion network of Universal, the album sold 200,000 copies in its first week in stores—twice the original sales of the Big Tymers’ first album. I Got That Work hit the number three spot on the Billboard pop charts and earned platinum sales certification in September of 2000.
Part of Cash Money’s ethos is to take all of its artists on the same road to success, and true to form, this album, too, featured the talents of many of the labels’ other artists, including L’il Wayne, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk. Following the album’s release, the Big Tymers took their show on the road, bringing all of Cash Money’s artists with them on a national tour. They also toured with top-grossing rap artists from other labels in what David Segal of the Washington Post called “rap music’s grandest traveling cavalcade” that hit the cities on its tour “like a block party H-bomb.”
Members include Mannie Fresh (born Mannie Byron) and Brian “Baby” Williams.
Group formed in New Orleans, LA, 1997; made recording debut on the Cash Money Records release It’s All on Ö Vol. 2 by rapper B.G., 1997; released first album, How You Luv That? on the Cash Money Records label, 1998; released sequel, How You Luv That?, Volume 2, on the Universal label, 1999; released I Got That Work, 2000; released /Got Rich, 2002.
I Got That Work featured two hit singles. The first, “Get Your Roll On,” became one of the most-requested songs at radio stations around the country, and its music video was played extensively on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, as well as on MTV. The other single from I Got That Work, “#1 Stunna,” became the lead single on the soundtrack for the film Original Kings of Comedy.
Hood Rich was the Big Tymers’ next effort, released in 2002. This album, like its predecessor, sold 200,000 copies in its first week. It hit the number-one spot on the Billboard 200 chart and went platinum in August of 2002. “Still Fly” the first single and music video to come off the album, received substantial play on MTV and BET.
Fresh cited his father as one of his main influences on the creation of Hood Rich. A deejay himself, Fresh’s father provided advice and suggestions for the music that went into the mix, including, as Fresh told Tony Green in the St. Petersburg Times, “more old school 808 drum-machine-type sounds.” The album continues in the Cash Money vein, celebrating materialism in all its forms. Fresh defended the Big Tymers’ ongoing obsession with wealth, citing childhoods of poverty as a continuing inspiration for his and the Williams’ celebration of the luxuries they now enjoy. But beyond the money, Fresh and the Williams brothers are in the music business for the long haul, not just for the luxuries it brings them, but because they love music.
How You Luv That, Cash Money, 1998.
How You Luv That?, Vol. 2, Universal, 1999.
I Got That Work, Universal, 2000.
Hood Rich, Universal, 2002.
PR News Wire, October 2, 1998; May 24, 2000; June 6, 2000; June 11, 2002.
St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL), May 23, 2002.
Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), June 16, 2000.
Washington Post, March 11, 2000.
“Big Tymers,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (February 8, 2003).
“The Big Tymers,” RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=6951&cf=6951 (February 2, 2003)
“The Big Tymers Biography,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/big_tymers/bio.jhtml (February 4, 2003).
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